Sunday, February 09, 2014

Bad postcard of the week: Mystery spots at Central Michigan University

What could possibly have created that mysterious stain?
I don’t think Dad was impressed with my University of Missouri dorm when he saw it for the first time.

“It looks like a condemned mental hospital,” he said.

Floyd Cramer Hall was not luxurious, it’s true. There was no air-conditioning and not much of a breeze, save for Tony’s “Wind Machine” fan to bring relief from Missouri’s humidity. And the radiator clanged loudly throughout the night when the weather was cold. We shared a bathroom with guys from about six other rooms.

So I get it when the folks at Central Michigan University in 1956 thought their sparking new dorm was state of the art college living.

The back reads: “Rachel Tate Hall, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  One of the newest and finest residence halls in the country. It accommodates 304 students, 4 to a suite. Each suite consisting of 2 bedrooms, a study room and complete bath. Each suite is furnished modern throughout with house phone included. Residents take their meals in Food Commons.”

I’m sure it’s a nice place and all. But there is one highly scary detail in the photo that the postcard copy writer omits. What the heck is that giant stain in the parking lot? What did they do, celebrate the dedication by detonating an elephant?

It’s unsettling, to be sure. Especially since the building has the architectural charm of a warehouse. A potential student would what to know what kind of devastation occurs in the parking lot before moving into such a charmless place.

And it was a pretty rowdy place, according to a CMU historical site:

“Its location next to the Carlin Alumni House, which was the university president's residence at the time, led to many dinner invitations to the president and his wife as apologies for excess noise. In 1958, the entire Homecoming court lived from Tate Hall. The building housed women from 1956 to 1972, and became coed until it was demolished, along with Barnard, in 1997. They had been closed due to low enrollment, structural problems, and general inefficiency. The decision to raze them was based on the high cost of remodeling.  

We never did such wild things in Cramer Hall, but it has one thing in common with Tate Hall: it’s been demolished.
Floyd Cramer Hall has it was being demolished in 2010. It was home from 1984 to 1986.

I found some photos of its destruction on aaRoon’s Flickr site. Room 4 would have been the next window on the left if we could extend the photo a little.

Temperature issues aside, it was a neat place. While other campus dorms had painted cinder-block walls, Cramer and the four others in our cluster had tan, glazed brick walls. It was different.

It wasn’t carpeted, and “California Steve” and I celebrated our great purchase of a remnant that couldn’t have been bigger than three feet by four feet. We could barely fit on it on the same time. But that was our carpeting.

Tony and I upgraded the bunk beds with wooden lofts, hand-me-downs from Becky and Karen when they moved on. We were styling!

And Cramer was part of Mizzou’s grand experiment – the first coed door. I was there for its first year of mingling the genders. The first floor was for guys, the second and third for girls and top floor for guys. Lacking an elevator, the first floor was the place to be.

I had adventures, experienced new things and met new people. I learned about living from home and shared a room for the first time. I was blessed with patient roommates who tolerated Mets and Twisted Sister posters and all things New York.

Like Tate Hall here, it wasn't much to look at. But it was the setting for many transitions and good times.

Fortunately, there were no mysterious stains outside.


Tony Hartsfield said...

Glorious Cramer Hall. Such great memories.

AnzaSummer said...

I lived in Barnard Hall which shared a food commons with Tate. Thanks for the memories. If CMU had been smart, they would have sold off bricks to past residents when they demolished the buildings. No where that I lived on campus from 1977-1981 still exists and it's rather sad.